A key Big Ten matchup is in store on Saturday when the #12 Illinois Fighting Illini (18-7, 11-4 Big Ten) visit the #19 Michigan State Spartans (18-7, 9-5 Big Ten). Both teams have struggled with consistency this season and are coming off losses as favorites. Illinois defeated MSU at home in mid-January, 56-55.
Saturday’s tipoff is at Noon EST inside the Breslin Center in East Lansing, MI. The spread is currently a pick ‘um, and the over-under total is at 139.5 points.
What to Know – Illinois Fighting Illini
The Fighting Illini try and bounce back after a tough loss at Rutgers earlier in the week. Illinois has dropped two of its last three games and fallen a half-game back of the top spot in the Big Ten standings.
Illinois ranks third in the conference averaging 75.9 points per game thanks to 45.6% shooting from the field and 36.2% shooting from the arc. The Fighting Illini defense allows 66.4 points per game, 40.4% shooting from the floors, and 31.2% shooting from the 3-point line.
It was an off-night shooting for the Illini in its 70-59 defeat inside the RAC against the Scarlet Knights. Illinois connected on only 37.9% of its shots and was just 6-of-23 from beyond the arc. Kofi Cockburn collected his 14th double-double, scoring a game-high 20 points and securing ten rebounds.
Illinois is 11-14 against the spread this season and 3-6 ATS on the road. The Fighting Illini are 2-7 ATS over their previous nine games and 2-5 ATS in their last seven against the Spartans.
What to Know – Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State’s lost three of its last four conference matchups and tumbled to the middle of tightly-contested Big Ten standings. Even with the tough stretch, Michigan State remains just two games behind the league’s leaders.
The Spartans score 72.7 points per game behind 45.9% shooting from the floor and 38.3% from deep. Michigan State’s defense is fourth in the league, limiting opponents to 66.1 points per game, 40.3% shooting from the field, and 30.2% from three.
Penn State pulled away late in the second half, depriving Spartans’ head coach Tom Izzo of tying Bob Knight for Big Ten wins for a coach, beating Michigan State, 62-58. Julis Marble II supplied the Spartans with a team-high 14 points off the bench, and Max Christie added ten.
The Spartans are 13-12 ATS with a 6-6 mark ATS on their home floor. MSU is 1-4 ATS over its last five contests.
The Pick is In
The biggest question mark heading into Saturday’s contest is which team is going to show up. Neither team has played particularly well over the last two weeks at a time when you expect your team to be hitting their stride.
Illinois has struggled on the road, but Cockburn and the Fighting Illini figure things out this weekend. The Fighting Illini get a rare regular-season sweep over the Spartans for the first time since 2005-06.
Betting Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini ML